New Tom Hanks Film Unearths Autism Discrimination

A new film starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock opens nationwide later this month and addresses several emotional issues, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and autism. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," based on the 2006 novel of the same name, tells the story of nine-year-old Oskar Schell who loses his father in the World Trade Center attacks and must come to grips with his loss. While not officially acknowledged in the novel or film, Schell is suspected to have Asperger’s Syndrome and uses a mysterious key left behind by his father to embark on an emotional and healing journey throughout New York City. Schell’s autistic traits are clearly displayed throughout the film, which include an unusual tone and rhythm of speech, social difficulties and sensory issues. 

The film has been met with mixed reviews, receiving a mediocre rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but is also being heralded by some as a triumph.

Perhaps the most disturbing component of this film’s release is the blatant discrimination against children on the autism spectrum, as seen in reviews and comments posted around the web. Based on some of these online rants, it appears that many moviegoers and critics take issue with the way children with autism behave and speak. In an IMDB review, one user from New Zealand posted the following:

“Top notch talents put themselves at the service of this jarring tale lead by Thomas Horn a young actor, talented I’m sure, but here, he is utterly unpleasant. A precious child with a jarring voice that should be stopped, now!”

But perhaps the most vile and ignorant comments were reserved for AP Movie Writer David Germain:

"Newcomer Thomas Horn, the 13-year-old star who was cast after the filmmakers saw him on a "Jeopardy!" kids episode, is a mixed bag, holding his own among the adult actors but, through no fault of his own, forced to behave with excessive shrillness much of the time.

That’s because his character, Oskar Schell, may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism (his medical tests, we’re told, were inconclusive). You make allowances in life for people you encounter with autism, but spending two hours with a fictional character possessing autistic qualities can be grating."

Mr. Germain and others have exposed what we as parents contend with on a regular basis, which is the overt discrimination and contempt towards our children by the general public at large. Had Germain made such statements about a movie character’s race or sexual orientation, I’m sure we’d be hearing a lot more outcry. But unfortunately, other than a few Web sites and autism message boards, there has been little fanfare made about the AP writer’s sentiments.

Perhaps Germain "makes allowances" for those with autism in real life, but I refuse to do the same for his ignorance and asinine comments.

96 Responses to New Tom Hanks Film Unearths Autism Discrimination

  1. Thank you Michelle, for another excellent blog. I must admit my blood pressure was rising just reading your comments. Yes, so many people give lip service to understanding ‘autism’, until they have to deal with it – standing in a supermarket whilst a child at the next checkout counter loses the plot and visibly showing disdain, or the ‘tut, tutting’ of parents in the school carpark making judgements on the behavior of a child in their child’s class. Acceptance is not the flavor of the month, it is in the every day dealings with, and understanding the impact that autism has on so many families in our world. Thank you for letting us know about this movie, I shall look forward to seeing it when it is released.

  2. Melinda says:

    Having two children on the Autism spectrum, I found it appalling that a critic wouldn’t be more sensitive to the subject of special needs children. Obviously I am not sure what they are referring to off hand because the movie is new and I haven’t seen it yet, but I think the Autism community will embrace it at large and see it much differently, much like anyone who has had experience with childhood cancer would have embraced the movie “Letters to God”. It’s amazing how such controversial topics can be met with such absolute disdain. Noting that we have two top notch professionals in the acting world doing this movie, I’m sure they did the story line justice. However, critics, and others who obviously have never experienced Autism one on one… I hate to say it, but ignorance must be bliss for them… cause it surely is not bliss for those of us parents who have to face it day in and day out. At the same time, it is almost pitying that people can have such a one sided view of the world, to not do the research, and to not see the intrinsic value that these children have to the world… even with their quirks and challenges in life, they are incredibly smart and talented individuals in their own ways. I look forward to viewing the film, and hopefully I’ll remember to stop back by and post my comments on it. :)

  3. EJ says:

    More noticeably for me through this dialogue is the outright absence of any mention of the discrimination of people of all ages who are on the spectrum. This is a huge problem and has been for a very long time. Further, I hope to see our general public recognize that Aspergers is not “autism light”.

  4. Janette Larkin says:

    David Germain you say you make allowances in life for people you encounter with autism, but I for one would love to see the way you do this. I would guess you tut and walk the other way so your allowance is avoidance. You only spent two hours with a fictional character possessing autistic qualities and found it can be grating. Let me assure you that living with these qualities 24/7 can be more than grating but we love our kids no matter what.
    I wish I could say that we also love your film reviews but I personally found it grating to the extent that I would like to see nothing further of yours published as you are obviously ‘tunnel vision’ in your observations and ignorance.

  5. Tracy Aplin says:

    I have very little knowledge of Autism, I always thought children with it rarely spoke or interacted even with their own family, let alone strangers, but I have followed the show ‘Parenthood’ which features a child with Aspergers which seems more closely connected to Turrets (sorry about spelling) rather than Autism.

    I would just like to make a very simple observation. I get very annoyed when I see really bad behaviour by children in Public places, never at the children, always at the Parents as it obviously gives one the instant perception that they have been lazy, neglectful and even worse, spoilt the child without effective discipline or direction. If a child with Autism or Aspergers gives off those same indications, it is hardly the fault of the observer if they are not aware of the situation, although it is very unfortunate for the child and the Parent of course. I’m not one to pull faces or make comments re unruly children in Public, but as a Parent of an Autistic child I would imagine this is one of the biggest hurdles they must have to overcome, strangers thinking their Parenting skills are sadly lacking. Surely that is a ‘downside’ of the condition and can hardly be considered the fault of the observer.

  6. Lisamareedom says:

    I’m beginning to see a pattern here in the intolerance for sounds and lack of empathy. Do you think there is any such thing as a closet Aspie? Protesteth too much?

  7. Nikki says:

    Tracy, I understand where you are coming from but in my experience, any observer making silent judgements on other people’s parenting no matter what the reason, is inappropriate. We are all human and have our bad days and it’s not up to any observer to make silent judgements whether they know the circumstances or not. Society needs to be far more kinder than that.

    It is much more pleasant for all involved, to simply smile.

    And as for the critics opinions … that is just what it is, a critics opinion. They get paid to do it, we don’t have to read it, we can make up our own minds for ourselves. I for one am always keen to see things from all angles and believe that education is the key.

    I am autism aware, are you?

  8. Madmother says:

    As the mother of a glorious child (or young man on the cusp) with Asperger Syndrome I come across this type of bigotry constantly. This expression of “I don’t judge BUT” made by people totally ignorant and inflexible.

    It is the same as starting a comment with “I’m not racist BUT…” when you KNOW what will follow is completely discriminatory.

    I have taught my child tolerance. I wish the same could be said of others.

  9. Dana Smith says:

    that’s like saying it was hard to watch Children Of A Lesser God because Matlin’s speech was slurred and disturbing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss – this time it’s just ignorance!

  10. Suzanne Bahmer says:

    I am a mother of a 13 yr old boy with Autism and I am appalled on what David Germain has said. Let him walk a day in my shoes and I KNOW he would change his mind about our children!!! Does he really think that we as there parents are ok with the meltdowns in the middle of the stores or worry day in and day out if our children will take off or something bad will happen to them? Wake up Mr Germain…..Autism is everywhere and I suggest you get educated on it before you make another IGNORANT statement!!!!!!!!

  11. Heather says:

    My child with autism is 10, and when I start to feel frustrated or irritated by the way he communicates at times, I try to remember the doctors said he may never speak. The best thing that can happen to a person like Germain is he is some day blessed to know and love someone with autism. I don’t get upset about ‘other people’ anymore. Their ignorance has become my bliss. It’s an opportunity to educate. I have far too many other things in my life on which to spend my energy.

  12. Trish says:

    I have to admitt, before I became a mother, I was very judgemental of other peoples parenting skills. Now that I have children, who for the most part are fairly good in public, I know that it is not something I have a whole lot of control over. LoL. One of my babies, a girl, is very strong willed. She is my Typical baby. She has a twin brother, my baby boy, who is autistic. I am the same now as I have always been concerning children. I have found that it is much more effective if a child is crying to walk up and start talking to the child and the parent. Letting them know all is well and asking the child “What’s wrong?” and asking mom if I can help. Usually that causes the child to calm down if for no other reason than to hide from me. LoL. But, sometimes they just need a little break from the situation. And MOST of the time the parents are grateful for a nice person who is not shooting them ugly looks.

  13. Donal says:

    As an adult autistic who has repeatedly come up against workplace discrimination, I can only say that I am in no way surprised at the NeuroTypical reactions. Reminds me of a line in the BBC documentary ‘The Autistic Me’ wherein a profoundly autie chap is out looking for a job and the clerks at one place reply “There aren’t enough jobs to go around for us, what makes you think that you can get one?” It’s this whole ‘us and them’ mentality that reminds me of both the racial and sexual orientation discrimination in america over the past 50 years. Luckily those two are finding acceptance, now it is perhaps our turn.

    What is our future? And how do we get there?

  14. Crystal Miller says:

    I am so excited to see these top celebrities taking on a movie about autism. Being a mother of two autistic boys I know firsthand, you have to make certain allowances for people with autism. So many people think they know and understand autism until they have to deal with it. What many don’t understand is autism is a wide spectrum and has many characteristics and each individual is different. As for anyone who has ever judged me on my parenting making silent judgement or comments no matter what the reason, is inappropriate. Please don’t comment about what you don’t understand ~Crystal~

  15. KF says:

    To the critic who finds 2 hours merely observing an autistic child grating-I find your opinion to be wa-aay beyond merely grating. And to the commenter who feels that she and others observing a poorly behaved child in public are justified in assuming that the parents of this child are lacking in parenting skills minus any information “justifying” the behavior (such as what,the word “autism” stamped on the child’s head??)…to you I ask why you feel that you are owed *any* explanation at all? Why not simply try not judging others,because you never know exactly what you are witnessing unless you are in another’s shoes. How’s that for a concept?

  16. Stephanie says:

    While there are sensitivity training courses for sexual orientation, gender discrimination, racism, etc., as yet there are none for sensitivity in dealing with people on the autism spectrum AND their families. Autism doesn’t just affect the individual on the spectrum! Certainly, they are often the most profoundly affected by it (and the HORRIBLE discrimination, disdain, avoidance & obnoxious comments that people feel entitled to bestow on those on the spectrum). However, the siblings & parents of those on the spectrum are also affected. By association, they also are excluded from social activities, treated to ignorant & even downright hateful comments, looked down on by those who feel they are “blessed” to not have to “deal” with the challenges of a family member on the spectrum.
    How sad that those people who avoid, ignore, disdain, discriminate & behavior in a manner one would expect from an untrained toddler are themselves the ones who are missing something. They are missing the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest, most intelligent people on the planet simply b/c associating with them might be “grating”. Even more sad is that most of those “normal” people don’t realize that their own boorish behavior is MORE grating & without cause, unlike those they judge.

  17. Kim says:

    Considering that David Germain has written an anti-Christian book called “Jesus Needs Help”, his comments about children with autism are not surprising. I was going to leave a comment in protest on his blog, but after reading through it I can see that he’s a completely unreasonable, hateful person. No sense wasting my time.

  18. MarfMom says:

    @Trish, as another mother with a child (and husband) on the spectrum, I’d ask you to rethink going up and talking to the child. If that were my son having a meltdown, that would just escalate the issue. He wants to be left alone. But asking the parents if they need any help is thoughtful! :-) The worst, besides the judgement, are the adults who start giving my child candy or stickers to try to shut him up.

    And as for the ignorant reviewer….I’m disappointed his editor allowed him to print that. You’re right: if it were some other minority, this wouldn’t have flown. Special Needs rights will be, as another blogger said, the next big civil rights fight.

  19. Kim says:

    On second thought, here’s a link to Mr. Germain’s movie review. Let’s let him know how we feel:

    My comments to Mr. Germain:

    You make allowances in life for bigots you encounter, but spending 2 minutes reading a movie review by a critic possessing bigoted qualities can be grating.

    I’m sorry you find children with autism to be so intolerable Mr. Germain. I live with an autistic child 24/7 and do not find him to be grating at all.

    But hey, what do you expect from someone who believes Jesus needs help?

  20. If it was one of those movies like “Boyz in da hood” he would not find the urban black speech,behaviour,manners hard to endure-another Neuro Typical hypocrite who thinks he can get away with abusing the only minority which is still ok to driscriminate against.Fellow Aspies and Auties:Stand Up and Fight! No Justice-No Peace.

  21. TG says:

    Thanks so much, Kim, for posting the link to the original site above. I’d encourage everyone to repost their comments on the link. My comments:

    I’m finding myself more than a bit appalled at your assertion: ” …spending two hours with a fictional character possessing autistic qualities can be grating.”

    An autistic person’s speech patterns (IF he’s able to speak at all) are as innate to him as his race or sexual orientation – and you’d never attack anyone on the basis of those characteristics … or would you?

    Typically developing people can choose to isolate themselves from those whose brain (and speech) patterns work a little differently, but unfortunately, autistic folks can’t. I know and love a little person with autism immeasurably, and the idea that she could stumble upon these comments and think that a problem lies with HER (and not the uninformed purveyor of such offensive comments) is awful. Grating, even.

    Shame on you for your unfortunate choice of words.

  22. Everyone of us who wants to push back against this discrimination should vote with our money and words. Go see the movie. Bring your friends and kids. Then go home and blog about it. Post your review on Facebook or whatever social media outlet you use. Visit other blogs and Facebook pages and share your comments. Tweet about it with links to all the blogs and websites that support your viewpoint. I’ll retweet if you will.

    Mark L. Olson
    LTO Ventures (
    Twitter: @LTOVentures

  23. Gemma says:

    Everyone, remember this man’s job is first and foremost a Film Critic.

    There’s the actor’s artistic “choice” of vocal tone, cadence, and vocal quality, and then there’s the character “choice” of using qualities similar to those of children with autism.

    I think what the critic was taking issue with was the former, as being something difficult to get through and perhaps taking away from the latter. This is a valid critical point. The themes of the film may be exquisitely true and beautiful, but if you can’t bare to sit through the performance, it doesn’t matter.

    One way to think of this is to use the example of Rosie Perez–an actress that I happen to like, but my mother absolutely cannot stand for no other reason than she cannot stand listening to her voice.

    Having not seen the movie, I can’t make further comment other than I am really looking forward to it. And this makes me long to see it even more…

  24. Michael Ponzio says:

    From my perspective Mr. Germain is like most people that aren’t aware of what autism is. Before our son was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 2, we already knew that’s what it was but you must have the official diagnosis by a doctor. As soon as your world is turned upside down from staying awake most nights because his sleep pattern is wrecked, sometimes it was a 24/7 nightmare because his normal 4 year old sister needs mom during the normal day hours. You have to dig for a way to get the boy on a regular sleep pattern and this was done for us by an over-the-counter drug called melatonin. We discovered it not from a pediatrician but from another mother with an autistic boy and at a social group we attended. Our son is more severely autistic than others with just aspergers, although that also has many challenges and requires prescription meds but those kids can go to a regular classroom. Our son can’t speak, read or write at 9 years old but looks at the pictures in books. He can say the alphabet but not all of it is clear and mostly he doesn’t really try. In our house the living room is his because he can entertain himself: work the VCR with all of his tapes, or put DVD’s on but mostly he watches tapes and sometimes on fast forward or rewind! He wants to sleep downstairs usually too – on the sofa. He doesn’t try very hard to use the potty but we try; really my wife does everything for him and has to change his pullups – a lot of extra expense there, but nothing that you can do. I’m not even there this year; I had to go overseas as a civilian contractor just to work. Now his big sister is 11 and is able to help sometimes. With all of this what the hell do I care about some film critic that lacks compassion for people with disabilities. It’s simply way beyond his comprehension.

  25. Laura says:

    It’s really interesting (but not surprising) to hear of people’s contempt for the mannerisms of this character portrayal. There really is a low threshold for tolerance for people with this disability. I have experienced the disdain of strangers first-hand, while trying to maneuver through everyday life with my Autistic daughter…a successful day is often one where her mannerisms go undetected; what most people don’t realize is that we go to great lengths to remain under the radar in public spaces. The idea of “Autism AWARENESS” is a bunch of crap unless the awareness comes with a certain level of tolerance, empathy and understanding.

  26. Michael Ponzio says:


    Autism awareness will always be alot less than it could be because as you’ve pointed out – we want to keep them under the radar. Part of the reason is we don’t enjoy the embarassment and my 11 year old gets even more embarassed. Even so going to the buffet was worth the effort. Then I guess that “autism awareness” is kind of an oxy-moron like “military intelligence”? I knew of one family that had business cards printed that explained – “Hi my name is Johnny and I’m autistic….” if an episode occured in a public place they would start passing these out. I guess that’s one way to increase autism awareness:>]

  27. Robin says:

    It is sickening how ignorant some people are. My best friend has an autistic son who will be 13 on Jan. 4th, and he is often treated with distain, not just by other children, but by adults as well. He is a sweet boy with so much love to give, but he is often treated like he’s a freak of nature, even by some of his own family members. It’s sad really. People need to educate themselves and not continue to be ignorant about this. They need to learn compassion for there fellow human beings.

  28. YvonneEloise says:

    Ignorance is grating :
    Germain is grating.

  29. Maddy says:

    Haven’t seen it [yet] but now I definitely will and take the whole family too. Love Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and look forward to seeing a new actor on the scene.

  30. Joeymom says:

    Interestingly, after reading the whole review, I am keen to see this film! It sounds like an excellent attempt to give a glimpse into the workings of an autistic mind. That Mr. Germain seemed ignorant of that seems strange at best.

  31. Elaine says:

    Justice will prevail …

  32. Jennifer says:

    My son is severely autstic and those kind of comments are rude and not welcome. When u have a child on the spectrum u understand these things. Im glad that the ones making the comments dont have children on the spectrum cuz theyd face anger and resentment at home. With their own parents FORCING them to change cuz they dont like their little quirks. I cant stand pple who think they are all that and above and beyond anything that isnt “normal”. Karma will bite you in the butt big time for ur rude comments.

  33. Lindsay says:

    WHOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEE… I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut- here was MY response to this … ignoramus ……

    ” …spending two hours with a fictional character possessing autistic qualities can be grating.”

    Wow! You ought to try spending hours with children who struggle, or even their parents who struggle to raise them. I am not only the parent of a child with Autism, but I work daily with families, helping Parents accepting their diagnosis, pointing them in the grueling direction of therapies, doctors, and tests they will now need to take part in.

    Let me tell you what I find “grating”, ignorant people who are so quick to judge, those who think that watching a film in a two hour period gives you any insight into the disability itself, inhumane comments which are not only judgmental but degrading.

    Mr. Germain, unfortunately you are not alone, and because of people like you? I have to work twice as hard to help parents feel they are not alone, because of people like you I have to work twice as hard to encourage parents to not care how society views them and stress their right to enjoy life despite others who are completely ignorant, because of people like you? I have raise my voice 100 times louder in order to be an advocate for not only my OWN child but hundreds of others who parents are tired of fighting and have no more ambition, those who have lost their faith in humanity, those who feel there will never be a chance to rest when it comes to fighting and defending their child. Parents who never have any time away- no dates- no luncheons- sometimes not even the ability to have a job. Parents who devote themselves, to their children wholly all while also being a spouse, and often parents to other children. You have no idea the fight that we have- in order to teach our children to talk, in order to teach our children that society may look at them different but their ‘gifts’ are a blessing. You try teaching a child to be proud of themselves with people like you running around and accusing any time spent with them to be ‘grating’. You make me sick to my stomach- but as I said- you are not alone- unfortunately you are more of a majority- the difference is- your comments are the ones that LEAD this society to follow in your footsteps. Walk a mile in another’s shoes before you start throwing around comments about something you think you know something about but in fact- are just another ignorant busy body running your mouth.

    BY the way- how many people who are on the spectrum do you think you just offended and made them feel less of themselves while they sit quietly in the shadows, Are you proud?

  34. Abby lee says:

    I am glad the movie portrays such qualities of an autistic child. In a review it said you don’t want to sit for two hours of such behaviors of this child, try living with one! All I want to say, since others have said what I would have is that this movie is a great way to spread autism awareness. To reach assholes like the review author.

  35. Chelle says:

    Let me tell you what I find “grating”, ignorant people who are so quick to judge, those who think that watching a film in a two hour period gives you any insight into the disability itself, inhumane comments which are not only judgmental but degrading.

    Well said Lindsay

    Now Mr Germain you sadly are not worth wasting my time one but maybe you should go and get educated before you voice an option on a topic you very clearly know very little about.

    As As Lindsay said Quote ! Walk a mile in another’s shoes before you start throwing around comments about something you think you know something about but in fact- are just another ignorant busy body running your mouth.

    You a shallow Igororant waste of time !

  36. Paul says:

    I have to agree children within the Autism sprectum are annoying, They can be very hard to deal with and can some times be destructive to them self and others. So i guess we should lock them up? No maybe we should eliminate them from the planet? Being the Father of an 18 yr old High Functioning daughter with Autism i say we should banish them all to the moon??? Of course then we all might miss out on some pretty amazing things. MY daughter graduated High School with a 4.2 (regular ed no accomodations) She is now a freshmen at a major University. She has friends although she struggles with the social interaction, her friends love her and she loves them. Her smile lights up a lot of peoples life. She is going to be an artist someday and already her paintings have brought numerous people joy. So i say to all these people who dont understand how hard it is for a parant of a child with Autism, how about this imagine what it is like for the child with Autism, they want so much to be just like everyone else and have to overcome many obstacles. I am not a PC type of guy and never ran into anyone who tried to interfer with my Daughter when she was young but beleive me if i had i would have told them right were to go. God Bless these Kids they have many great gifts to give to us all.

  37. Susan Tombrello says:

    I responded to the review. The guy has a right to hate the movie, and from what he said, he might have ample reason apart from the actor’s “grating” qualities. That said, he did pin those qualities as the source of his irritation with the movie, and that is what is so offensive. I am an adult with AS with a child with moderate autism; it was my son’s diagnosis that led me to discover I have AS. A lifelong atheist, who was raised by atheists, I think it is in poor taste to tie the reviewer’s comments on this film to his criticism of christianity. Sorry, that’s not fair, and it’s just as insensitive as what this reviewer is doing IMO. It’s not always a good idea, or very classy, to fight fire with fire. I might not believe in God, but I am a kind and giving person and strive to be tolerant of others. To assume that anyone who doesn’t share our beliefs is somehow subhuman is myopic. We make ourselves look ridiculous when we succumb to that rhetoric.

  38. Melanie says:

    Thank you for an inciteful blog! very honest and true. Now, to Mr. Germain ..we live in a society where there is a new form of discrimination, brought on by ignorance, fear, and a lacking of intolerance! I’m the proud mother of two amazing boys who are challenged by autism every single day! The normal day in my house hold is very to the average person can be very grating! But, to the children and the parents of autistic children, we are not average! Ignorant and arrogant people like Mr. Germain, who have a small view of what the spectrum REALLY is, will never know or want to know what their arrogant statements really do. Only close minded, arrogant, and ignorant people would state a comment so discriminating that it makes you wonder if this person really meant it! Autism IS NOT A TRAGEDY! IGNORANCE IS!

  39. Ms. Joan says:

    I am a special education teacher~ these are my children~ My children struggle everyday for understanding and acceptance and their place in the world, with their parents struggle right along side them. People do not understand ” the special needs child” unless it is a handicap they can see. I find it funny, how so many people listen and validate what someone writes, just because they can. Sadly, they have not been blessed with a special child in their lives~ I have and I am a better person because it.

  40. Mickey says:

    To all of the parents of autistic kids, hang in there and realize that our kids teach us about the gift of life. We have a deeper understanding and appreciation because of our devotion and love for them. Autism awareness or not.

  41. Jenny says:

    I think that because the diagnosis of autism is so often met with the desire to “cure” it, we tend to dismiss the idea of neurodiversity as a real and needed part of society. Autism might be a neurological disorder, or maybe just a different kind of developmental process. Those of us who love someone with autism try to mitigate difficulties that come with living in a world that values social interaction — and those hidden rules that go with interpersonal skills — above so much else. We must insist on total acceptance, total integration, total inclusion. Our children with autism are not diseased. They are different, and they can be tough. But they would not be the same people they are without autism. And we love them.

  42. Mary Mary says:

    Wooow!! I have a lot work ahead for me. My little boy might come across assholes like the ones sharing their opinions here. Well, all I could say is becareful who say yor ignorance too, not everyone is tolerant. You might find yourself with some missing teeth one day and it aunt gonna be fem cavities. Lets cultivate awareness to generate change

  43. Lindsay says:

    I have enjoyed reading all these comments- I just have to say- The one thing that I didn’t mention that was mentioned and I totally agree with- is the positive side of Autism Spectrum Disorders, although people are often discriminated against in this fashion- I am very thankful to have my son in my life every day- I graciously thank him for bringing me into the “Autism Aware” community- it is a place full of people of many different kinds of backgrounds that are still brought together – and less judgmental- than the rest of society- I am so VERY thankful to have been able to interact with a whole new world full of better, more enriching people than one may find among *typical* areas of society!! My son amazes me every day- and occasionally has me wanting to pull my hair out- but all the same- it’s a completely bittersweet experience! <3

  44. Jennifer O says:

    To Tracy- you obviously know nothing about autism, so you probably should not have made your comment! You say Max on Parenthood more likely has turrets?! I really wish I had stopped reading your comment right there!!! And just so you know, you and other people judging me or my child on his behavior ,is really on the bottom of my list of worries for my child with autism! So, you and the bigotted movie critic (who by the way should really find a different profession) can keep your thoughts to yourself!!!

  45. sanniceto says:

    we deserv tu be respectd a n portrayed bettr bi media an had ths ben about the cheractrs race ect it woldve been bettr -we ar a ever growing group an yued think nbi nowe that society wold porteray us ina better waes then thei du -autism ise a dferent neurodiversity an we dont need a cure but the society we ar forsed tu liv in needs a huge kick ov awareness an undrstanding about use

  46. Lindsay says:

    Jennifer-… I did stop reading there… LOL! Sorry .. Had to add that two cents- Not sure where my post went that I added?? But I did want to say- that one thing I didn’t say before- is that- My son? Is such a gift, I am so thankful every day that him, and his disABILITY- (see that I like to say- don’t DIS my son’s ABILITIES) but! That being said- I am so thankful for the people I meet now being a “part” of this “community” even if it is just as a parent …. And to Sanniceto- <3 I love how you said- "We don't need a cure but the society we are forced to live in needs a huge kick of awareness" .. <3 I love when I read things like that- I don't think my son wants a "CURE" either- HOWEVER- I am always careful of stating that opinion- I know that many SEVERE Autistics may very well wish for a cure- being that they feel so uncomfortable in their own bodies often – especially – when – SPD is a common DX which is associated…… I can't imagine feeling the urge to crawl out of my skin- or the need to bang my head on a wall, or the need to rock constantly – I'm sure that isn't a "pleasant" aspect- but- on the contrary- …. The mind- IS AMAZING…

  47. This outraged me so much that I posted my own blog post about and have posted a letter that I emailed to the AP asking that he retract his review and apologize for his insensitive comments. The email I sent my letter to is Please encourage your readers to send an email. If they need a template they can go to my facebook page where I posted mine. They are free to copy word for word, use parts of it or write their own… I just want to flood the inbox of the AP Film department with emails so they know just how pissed off our community is by this.

  48. Sam Hays says:

    I have three children with ASD, one being Aspie so hopefully most of you who have commented won’t cane me too hard with replies of outrage.

    To be honest, I didn’t find the Germain’s comments offensive at all. He just said it how it is. Aspie’s can be grating, especially if they are not your own(my son can really grate me but I love him dearly). What I have observed in people’s responses above is there incredibly over-sensitivity to this supposed disciminatory comment. Can I suggest you take a deep breath and get over it?

    Let’s focus on the value of this film and look for ways to promote autism awareness in the community. Why not organise a fund raiser for your favourite autism charity at your local cinema when it comes out and invite all your friends :)

  49. William says:

    … except an unfortunately large number of moviegoers are missing the (critic’s) larger point, which is the shamelessly gratuitous, callous, and grossly manipulative manner in which the film, and the novel on which it is based before it- exploit so called “emotional” topics such as 9-11, autism, and although from what I gather the subtext portion regarding it has been omitted from the movie- the holocaust; all in a blatant effort to cash in at the box office if not assuage the Oscar nomination process (a report has surfaced decrying the movie’s investors rushing production so as that its release date coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the attacks on the US).

    As an aspiring author, a new yorker, and yes- a rather “well adapted” (don’t you just detest that lilting little denomination?) autistic man in his early 30′s I must admit to have found the book, upon its release that is, to be lackluster in substance if not altogether cowardly and purposely vague in its inability, or outright unwillingness- to depict with detail, authority and depth the cognitive, social, cultural, and even the economic dynamics of autism, (negative OR positive, by the way!), and was shocked to find that in a novel of such large (physical) size there exists but scant mention of the autistic ‘family spectrum’ OUTSIDE of what can, to the unknowing eye, be perceived as a child’s “at-a-glance” tantrum speech-mechanics, themselves strictly employed to portray an burdensome obstacle TO THE CHILD as opposed to the coordinate longitude and latitude of his worldly natural element.

    In other words, the old just-give-the-kid-a-speech-impediment, and claim “the results were inconclusive” (the latter being a direct quote from both novel and movie adaptation), isn’t it?

    Don’t believe the hype!

  50. Chelle says:

    Public Display of Autism

    This is a short poem that i found on my road to learning about ASD like many that have posted here i also have a son who is the light of my life he has shown me so much he is a gift and joy ….

    If he falls to the floor, kicking and screaming, because there’s no chicken nuggets, it’s just his way of coping. Be patient, you’ll get your turn to order.

    If she bumps her head and starts to hit herself in the face, don’t stare, it’s her frustration. Mom will handle it, she see’s it everyday.

    If dad is cutting his child’s food, he’s not treating him like baby. He just doesn’t want his son to choke.

    If she ignores your child on the playground, she’s not a brat. She’s just not good at social interaction. She would love to play with your child, she just doesn’t know how.

    He may be to big to sit in the shopping cart, no, he’s not lazy. He wants to run around, but his mom needs to shop. She’s not up for chasing him today.

    If she has to be carried out screaming, it’s probably because of a meltdown. Be helpful, open the door. Don’t just stare or whisper. No, it’s not because she didn’t get the toy she wanted. If it were only that simple.

    Don’t talk to her like a child, unless she is one. Don’t yell, she’s not deaf. She may not talk, but she can understand.

    No, it’s not bad parenting. Discipline won’t help.

    his is autism, it’s his life. Don’t judge him, he’s not judging you.

  51. Ele says:

    Would they have the same opinion of ‘My Left Foot’ about an acclaimed author with cerebral palsy? No! This is because people with mental disabilities are considered annoying whereas people with physical disabilities deserve respect apparently! I wish it wasn’t the case but life experience has taught me otherwise!

  52. Ellen says:

    Mr. Germain, manners and compassion NEVER go out of style. What a miserable man you are. Shame on you.

  53. William says:

    I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and yes, I can be a bit grating at times. I would like to thank Mr. Germain for reconfirming my suspicion that I will never be accepted by normal society. Thank you so very much, you ignorant c-ahem-cold man.

  54. Kimberly says:

    William… I’m on the spectrum myself, but was not diagnosed until my son’s were diagnosed. You are accepted by society. Just because the loudest individuals are often the most ignorant, that doesn’t mean they represent the majority. Even if they did, you can surround yourself with people you respect and enjoy. They will respect and enjoy you, as well.

    There is a lot of talk of explaining that children’s behavior comes from autism. I do that, because I do not want my child to be a victim of somebody else’s ignorance… it also has a tendency to shut them up. Both my son’s are high-functioning, and have had very public struggles when they were younger. Today, they have their personal struggles that do not affect anyone else, but what society notices is a very small part of that. I sometimes wonder that when I explain the situation to others and ask for certain behaviors: speaking calmly and slowly, double-checking that words were heard and understood, etc., I wonder if I am actually triggering the prejudice these individuals already have against autism spectrum. I also hate the “over-protective” comments that are made. While your child is sending inappropriate pictures of him or herself over their cell phone and facebook, mine is starring in school musicals and taking pre-engineering classes. He works his BUTT off to understand what is going on around him, and he does an amazing job, but I like to think that “over-protection” helped give him the tools to succeed.

  55. Kimberly says:

    By “shut them up” I mean shut up the people making judgments.

  56. Donna Duffy says:

    I read the book that this film is based on long before my own little boy was diagnosed with Aspergers and fell in love with the character of the little boy immediately. There is much more to people on the spectrum than what they happen to be diagnosed with. Aspergers isn’t a disease it’s a way of being, and people don’t have to be on the spectrum to be in possession of annoying voices or habits.

  57. louie louis says:

    Who on this thread isn’t “grating”? Seriously. Autism is a difference, whether it is Aspergers or classic autism. What stuns me is the unapologetic discrimination we are seeing in many comments and accepted as “brilliant” or “sophisticated” movie reviewers who have been proving to be little more than ignorant and narrow minded. Tracy, while I appreciate your honesty about your own ignorance and judgments, I hope you can take it a step further and do some research, spend time with autistic people of all ages. I keep seeing people talk about children here. Can we please acknowledge that there are also (and have been) autistic adults? Tolerance has to extend to all of us, not just people based on religious or racial differences. Thanks.

  58. Nicole says:

    Thanks for posting this! Here is the contact page for the AP just in case anybody wants to voice their opinion on AP Movie Writer David Germain’s comments.

  59. Tina Nelson says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but to Tracy: I think it’s extremely rude for you to judge other parents and call them lazy when their kid is having a fit in the store. My 11 yr old daughter is the queen of public fits. The more I react to her, the worse she gets. Ignoring her is key. It doesn’t make me lazy, it makes me smart. And it gives me that much more time to check out and get my crap done. If you don’t deal with Autism 24/7, you have no clue. My autistic 8 yr old is one of the most affectionate kids I’ve ever seen. He’s a chatterbox, loves his siblings, and loves to read. People that get to know him fall in love with him in minutes. I can’t wait to see this movie and give my opinion. ps..I also have a 12 yr old with Aspergers, so I pretty much know what I’m talking about.

  60. Erica says:

    This is interesting because I’m going through a personal issue related to this. When people with disabilities are incarcerated, should any thought be given to disabilities like Asperger’s and bipolar or should it be the person’s own problem that they shouldn’t have gotten into trouble in the first place? What do people think?

  61. rainbow says:

    As an adult on the autism spectrum, I can’t stand loud, shrill noises. That includes screaming children. I may understand WHY a child is screaming — overstimulation being a common cause — but I still have a very hard time dealing with it. I might be seen covering my ears murmuring “make it stop, make it stop.” This isn’t a judgment on the child or the parent but simply my expression of the fact that the noise is over-stimulating to ME.

  62. Bernie says:

    I have seen many people look down on my parenting skills over the years due to my son. He was bullied in school and came home several times injured by other kids only to be told by the school it was his fault for being so abrupt… It is alot of work with these kids and alot of understanding but it is worth it. He had a girlfriend over once and we spent a couple of hours talking about what is accepted behavior, you know meet her at the door , welcome her, take her coat, introduce to us,ask if she wants anything to drink/eat before dinner. Any body with a Aspergers child knows what happened he had it all done in the first 10 seconds and looked to me like what now? Okay my mistake next time we talk about spreading it out. Any way here we are a few years later he is going to a Tech school getting a regents diploma, also getting his Eagle Scout badge next month and his NYS EMT in March while volunteering on the local Ambulance. They say he is very good at it. Very exact with his performance and paperwork something his AS helps with. I guess the “critics” don’t know a damn thing.

  63. Robin says:

    Erica, just to clarify what you are asking about, are you wanting to know whether autism causes someone to get into to trouble and become incarcerated? Personally, I feel if someone breaks the law, s/he should be punished, even if the person has a disability. Having a disability should NOT be an excuse for a person to be allowed to do as s/he pleases. While I feel that people of all abilities should be treated with compassion and acceptance, I don’t feel having a disability excuses breaking the law.

  64. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    Thank you Michelle for posting this story. People like David Germain are oblivious to what autism is doing to America. A once rare disorder is now so common that everyone knows someone with an autistic child. Officially, autism’s cause is a mystery. Health officials have barely noticed that one percent of U.S. children now have an autism diagnosis. No one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or at the American Academy of Pediatrics know anything for sure about autism. Neither the CDC nor the AAP has ever called autism a crisis.

    Germain shows a remarkably callous attitude toward a child on the spectrum. It seems he finds that two hours with the “excessive shrillness” of an autistic child to be “grating.” I’d like invite him to spend some time with a severely affected child on the spectrum. He needs to hear what the lives of tens of thousands of parents are like. He should spend time with children who can’t talk, but scream for hours, ones who are still in diapers at teenagers, and ones who have to be constantly watched because their behavior makes them a danger to themselves and to others.

    As a country we’re faced with an epidemic of autism and we’re doing nothing about it.

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  65. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    Mr. Germain should look at how this country deals with autism.

    December 23 Washington Post published this commentary by the mother of an autistic boy who’s aged out of the school system and has nowhere to go.

    December 17 NJ Record had a story about the lack of services for the ‘tsunami’ of autistic adults about to descend on social services.

    January 3 CBS News reported about a boy in Kentucky who was punished for acting up in school by being tied up in a bag.

    Sadly, stories like this can be found everywhere.

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  66. BJ Nguyen says:

    Abuse and discrimination towards people on the spectrum (and with other differences)is something we at the ICAA ( have been working on for quite some time. From the Judge Rotenberg Center issue, insurance discrimination, discrimination and abuse in the workplace, schools, and educating communities, we have seen some ugly ignorance and we have seen glimmers of hope. One thing I think we need to address is what a few others have already mentioned: Where is the acknowledgment about people of all ages who are autistic? And, I would like to know why we are all settling for the suggestion that Aspergers is merely “mild autism”.

    To answer a question above about law and punishment and how it pertains to those on the spectrum: Yes, consideration for disability is taken into account when a crime is committed. For a crime to actually *be* a crime, one has to have a “guilty mind”. People on the spectrum *can* be of guilty mind, but many times they are not. It is my understanding that a disability such as autism has to be taken into consideration when determining crime and punishment in the US justice system.

  67. Julia says:

    In reading the article, and the responses….and being the Parent of a child on the spectrum, I will share what I know with you all. I have never encountered ANY child on the Spectrum or Adult for that matter that has a bigot, racist, hateful bone in their body. Thats not because of Parenting. Its just WHO THEY ARE. Autism, Aspergers, Tourettes, Downs etc…all are

  68. Julia says:

    equal opportunity. meaning they know no color, class, etc. The world could and should learn and live by their example.

  69. Lindsay says:

    RIGHT ON JULIA!! Well said! I agree!

  70. Bob Hackett says:

    When are we going to get our minds around the idea that we don`t have to sort people, or anything else for that matter, using terms like right or wrong, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable? If something or someone is different then that just means they`re different. There doesn`t need to be a secondary tag, label, or notation on their chart that says wrong, bad, or unworthy of our acceptance.
    Just let them be different. Many times different means they are capable of seeing and realizing things we can`t or won`t see.

  71. Georgette says:

    I’d just like to ask in a very general way – is David Germain not allowed to have an opinion?

    Yes, I suppose his attitude is discriminatory against kids who can’t help but behave or a speak in a manner that might be less than optimal. But I have to point out that saying, “He should spend time with children who can’t talk, but scream for hours…” isn’t really helping. Nobody voluntarily wants to do that – they might because they have to, or because they love a person affected by problems that cause behaviour like this, or because they’re caring wonderful superhumans who went into special education or social work to take care of these individuals. But nobody thinks to themself, “On my day off I’d like to sit for two hours and watch an 11-year-old child have a screaming fit in a grocery store”. That’s very upsetting to humans in general. I would argue that it’s equally upsetting when infants do that, and that’s expected behavior for a baby – if I were forced to spend time with anyone over the age of two who behaved like that, I would leave immediately. As mentioned by “rainbow” above, some people just don’t react well to the noise of children. I don’t care why it’s happening, I’m just not interested in listening to it! It’s a big part of why I don’t have kids. If a movie critic had said that a movie would have been good if not for the baby crying throughout the film, nobody would have been surprised; we’ve all accepted that children can, on occasion, be quite unpleasant. I’m not saying that children with Autism can’t be valuable members of society, but like all children, neither are they necessarily deserving of sainthood. I refuse to babysit my little cousins on the spectrum while I’m happy to watch (most of) my NT relatives (for short periods of time) because they’re brats. They’ve have a medical condition that explains why they’re such brats, but a diagnosis doesn’t make them any less difficult to work with.

    All I’m saying is that I agree that autism is a global problem that we will all need to learn to deal with better, but that doesn’t make it fun to watch. I work in a public library where we have “Sensory Saturdays” and I am very understanding when people bring in their children who are stimming or don’t understand that this is a quiet place, but that’s about my limit. People are allowed to have opinions about autistic characters the same way they’re allowed to have opinions about NT characters – according to his Rotten Tomatoes ratings, David Germain is substantially more annoyed by Adam Sandler than by Thomas Horn.

  72. Matthew Craven says:

    I am the parent of a 7 year old Moderate Autistic. If the few quirks my son is all I ever have to deal with then I am truly blessed with my child. He seems to nearly have his autism by the horns. The things that kid can do are amazing to us boring, normal people. People who underestimate autistic kids today may be under their thumb in the future.

  73. Melianatara says:

    Unfortunately being judgmental is simply a part of being human. And anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves. Some of us are simply less obvious about it and most of us wish EVERYONE was less obvious about it. But you can’t help it. it just happens. yes, you can try not to show it, and you can try to be a bit more tolerant. Because, While I understand that you can’t look at my children and know that they are autistic, you CAN tell that I’m in a bad mood over dealing with the situation and your little eye rolls are NOT improving it. And certainly don’t make snide comments that I may over hear because then I am certainly going to take out my frustration on you.
    As far as this movie, I havn’t seen it. But if someone wants to avoid it because they don’t like the way the kid acts, that’s they’re problem. Mr. Germain saying that he will put up with something when he has too but not by choice… he’s just speaking truth. Seriously, if someone had given me the choice to make my kids neuro-typical or not, I know what choice I’d have made and so do you. I love my boys as they are but I would not have CHOSEN this for them or me so don’t act like this critic has said anything out-landish because he hasn’t. He simply said aloud what most people keep to themselves.

  74. Stacey clark says:

    Oh how familiar I am with comments like these, the parent who doesn’t want my child to play with theirs or the downright hostile comments I get just because 3 of my kids have autism! There are times my kids voices can be pretty shrill. I just thank God they are vocal now because believe you me moms of kids on the spectrum cry buckets of grateful tears the first time thier child says ” momma” , no matter what the tone it is said in! It is a horrible and sad fact that we have a long way to go in order to overcome the ugliness that is discrimination. Especially since the commentor has no clue what they said hurts deeply. It breaks my heart on all levels and frankly I am anxious to see the treatment this subject gets in this new movie.

  75. Patrice says:

    i cant wait to see this i also have 2 children in the autism spectrum, there is a huge variety in the disorder from very high functioning to very low functioning where they will just suddenly scream for no reason. i have working with the whole line i watched the previews an yes some autistic children act just like that child an they usually have the actors watch an play an interact with people there trying to play just like rainman Dustin Hoffman spent almost a year interacting with people of the same condition which if i am correct was another form of autism. these reviewer need to spend a day with the spectrum of autistic kids then re watch the movie then redo there reviews before they judge something they have no clue about which was the reviews seem. my son stop talking altogether when he was 1 an a half it took him almost another 2 yrs to talk again but during that time he was extremely violent i remember a time in the supermarket he was throwing a temper tantrum an a women had the gall to tell me that child needs a good ole fashion butt beating. i have 2 extremely different autistic kids my 16 yr old son has social,emotional,sensory issues also some rage issues. my 8 yr old daughter can be an emotional mess, cant stand loud noises, if we have a thunder lighting storm she will start freaking out an run, social issues. i have dealt with parents that don’t want my kids around them because of there behavior issues which i told the parents in the first place about an i gave them some choose words defending my child’s behaviors then others that love them around like my son who plays with a few younger autistic children an they play well together.

  76. Bryan says:

    Film critics are humanities types. Therefore, they are, of course, extremely intolerant and narrow-minded.

  77. Leah Davies says:

    I agree that the critics are showing a lack of understanding toward children who suffer from being autistic. For a complimentary overview, “Understanding Autism,” see:

  78. Sunshine S. says:

    It is so dishearting the criticism that grown adults make about individuals like my son who have Autism. How are the children in this world going to learn to accept people like my son with adults like them to teach them. Autism isnt the plauge and yes my son is differnt than most but it doesnt make me love him any less. It just breaks my heart to hear the ignorance of others who have no real idea of how great Autism can be. Most of the time my son is like any other kid till he cant cope and just melts down. I dont care what the critics say I love my son and as for his Autism doesnt make me love him any less it makes my son who he is.

  79. katie says:

    Well as a parent of autistic children I love them very much. Yes we have our difficult days but on the bright side they are the light in my dark days. They make me laugh and smile. Speech is a gift and something that is magical you don’t like his voice well consider how many children with Autism may never speak. Those children with Autism that do speak have conquered mountains to speak. I think we must give others some kindness and benefit of the doubt.

  80. Kim Vishnesky says:

    Just as the statements that Movie Writer David Germain has about autism is the same as my statement…Opinions are like assholes,everyones got one, some people are one!
    And yes people are way judgemental in society today. Fine be judgemental, be closed-minded, live a life of growing up with a silver spoon iin your mouth and never having to work a day in your life or have to work as hard as a person with Autism-just so others could understand you. Try to ask a question or answer with without others looking and/or laughing because you cannot word it right.Try being overloaded with noises because of your sensory disorder and just want to crawl under a chair and want to hide. to feeling all alone and sad because your anxiety takes over and you want to play with other kids but you just don’t know how so you sit alone day after day in school.
    Try being that childs parent…you see how others look at him, you see how other people treat him and make nasty/uncalled for comments,you see how sad he gets or sometimes doesnt even noticed-but you noticed and it saddens even the toughest of hearts because you know all his life that the judgemental evil assholes of the world will never look at him as a normal human being, that he will always be labeled as “something/someone different” and to me that is unacceptable.
    Everyone fights for rights, etc…but no one is listening when we fight for equality among Autistic children and adult!!! learn before you judge.stop seeing the world with blinders on…wake up for once.

  81. Bonnie Murphy says:

    I find the comments of the movie critic ignorant yet we have to look at what his role was; to review a Hollywood movie. Since becoming parent of child on Autism Spectrum, I learned a lot about compassion and expanding my own tolerance of others that appeared different. How lucky I am now to have such increased awareness of amazing individuals that I dismissed earlier in my life because they did things a little differently for whatever reason, now are part of my world and what a complete moron I was for not knowing this prior to the birth of my own child. How did I not understand this before? I have no idea except when I see things like this article, I used to be as ignorant as this guy – ignorant means unaware, he doesn’t know what he is talking about so he just put stuff together and wrote up something.

    Am I offended? Am I speaking out? Do I want to write a vile note to this man and rip him apart? Ok, honestly – first inkling was yeah! But hey, I was only looking at myself, that is why I wrote what I just did above about myself. I cannot resist this catty comment, sorry but I am only human too: There are numerous actors/commentators on TV with “off-pitched voices” yet we tolerate them because we accept the whole package of the individual – is it possible you looked at this individual actor and found him annoying after reading a half page description of what Autism/Asperger’s was?

    Bigger issue is educating main society about the misconceptions about Autism and also see if we cannot get people to see beyond the disability to the amazing ability. The power of the brain of individuals on the Autism Spectrum is something that needs to be promoted, along with these individuals on the Autism Spectrum conforming to societal structure to a balance that each can live with. There is a balance and we need to all just allow one and other to “be.”

    Speaking of acceptance, Hollywood, there is no bigger example of group of people that act differently and could fit into a lot of the comments above of “children behaving badly” in public that we all have to tolerate yet nobody puts any pressure on them. Maybe society on a whole needs to look into their hearts and ask why we allow our celebrities passes on behaviors that far out due any behaviors of special needs children on a bad day, yet the looks and judgments that are passed are so cruel against the disabled yet are symbolized into hero worship or excused by “childhood star trauma” or “stint in rehab” to make it all better spin. Their behaviors are induced by a choice – disabled people’s behaviors aren’t. Yet who do we come down the hardest on and who do we show the most disgust at? Proof is in the article just written above. It is human nature but y’all we need to change this perception and I am going to tell you why:

    One thing people don’t realize is the largest minority group is the DISABLED GROUP and one that any of us can become a member of at any time, it isn’t something you are just born into – I am speaking beyond Autism now. In one second your life can change and boom you are part of this group, so before you are so quick to judge you might think about this next time you see someone that may not look like they are disabled on the outside but acting out or up. You never know where or how they got that way. Young people, wake up, you have no clue if that will be you in five years or whatever; whether due to accident or your own children not born yet. Better just to accept everyone for who they are and help out those who seem in distress.

    As a parent doing this for 15 years, trust me people who are commenting about behaviors, my child doesn’t act out any longer, she knows right from wrong in public. This isn’t the case though for all on the Spectrum and it hasn’t been a cupcake getting my daughter here to this level. It also came at a very high personal cost to me: my marriage, professional career, my company and every cent I had. Was it worth it? You bet, I learned the biggest thing in life there was to learn; I was chasing the wrong things in life. Parents of any child with a disability are warriors and family, we didn’t ask to be a part of this family but we are. There are a subset that don’t do the work and want others to do it for them but honestly a lot less than general public… we do the work and start over every day because what is the alternative?

    Oh there is one exception to all kids acting out and everyone can get mad: nice restaurants, people seriously…don’t bring your kids to them and not expect people to speak out and give you looks. I am the first one, actually I will come tell you I got a babysitter to come to eat in peace, where is yours and keep your kids under control in a place that isn’t meant for children. Yeah I can tell the difference between those with disabilities and not. If they have them I will ask I can help but y’all get my drift….because there still is something to that comment too…we have to make everyone accountable to the best of their abilities!

  82. Hsmith says:

    Seriously…..Does it realy matter any of this???its a bloody film?I myself am a parent of an autistic child and they should get more films out there for people to understand more about autism rather than just thinking everyone is like rainman…i havn’t seen the movie and i’m sure its nt meant to be offensive to anyone!!!Its only a movie!

  83. erm says:

    I’d just like to point out, that Oskar is not actually meant to be Autistic (or at least that’s not the point of his character). He’s nine, incredibly bright, and his dad has just died for no reason. His entire world has dropped from beneath his feet. read the book, it’s much better.

  84. Alisha says:

    These critics fail to realize how many of our youth today can relate to how this boy feels. With or without a diagnosis, our children have sensitivites and their best friends do as well. Sometimes people should be more critical of their own thoughts before sharing.

  85. Simon says:

    Thank you Matthew,

    Under their thumbs, I hope so. The unknowledgeable teachers, administrators, county attorneys and others better learn fast, these kids are super smart and they will vote strongly. You know I could care less about Mr. Germain and his opinions. What I’m concerned about are laws threatening parents who struggle to meet unrealistic truancy policies.

  86. V.L. says:

    To Sam Hayes,
    I appreciate your comment. Thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s easy to get all worked up when you not only feel the stress of parenting a special child, but deal with constant perceived criticism, but the truth is, if it is hard for the family/parent, how much more difficult is it for a stranger who doesn’t know the child in the good times as well as the bad.

  87. Thnk_B4U_Speak says:

    I have to admit that I didn’t finish reading all 86 comments prior to mine, but I just need to speak my peace too.

    First off, yes, I do deal with Autism in my home 24/7. I also dealt with it on a daily basis working with children (and adults) on the spectrum in the public school system for over 6 yrs. I have spent countless hours/days researching all about Autism to be more capable of understanding its ins and outs, ups and downs.

    That said…..

    This is a movie critic reviewing a movie. Movies are for entertainment. Documentaries are for education. This being a movie, he is judging it as such. A fictional character in a movie doesn’t exist. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I have no idea truly what this critic found grating, it is his JOB to point out what others may not like. I read the entire review and don’t get the impression that he liked the movie at all. There were many things he didn’t like, thus he rated it poorly.

    Perhaps those of us who deal with this 24/7 are a bit touchy because of the ill treatment or total lack of understanding by friends & family as well as strangers. Maybe we’re quick to judge this critic’s statement as an insult to those on the spectrum, when really it was just a statement about a fictional character that he found annoying. William Shatner’s halting speech patterns, Rosie Perez’ voice was mentioned earlier among others are not entertaining to some people.

    Let’s remember that he didn’t say ‘I find people with Autism to be grating’. He stated that two hours with HOW this character was portrayed to be grating.

  88. Nancy Peske says:

    I thought Thomas Horn did a brilliant job playing a boy who, according to his dialogue in the movie, was tested for Asperger’s with the results being inconclusive. The character is definitely a quirky kid with sensory processing issues, rigid and concrete thinking, and anxiety. I thought the young actor played all of these brilliantly–so brilliantly that I could see kids I knew in him and his gestures. I loved the artistry of the movie, too–the way the scenes on the swing, representing the movement the boy fears (hello, vestibular issues!), focused on the hinge–a visual thinker, particularly one on the spectrum, might zero in on that mechanism, symbolic of safety and support. Absolutely BRILLIANT.

    For the record, I don’t recall a scene where Oskar was rude in public. If anything, he was very polite to all but the doorman with whom he had a very crass banter going (a two-way street). I could imagine a boy on the spectrum trying to navigate adult male banter–men are always calling each other names and insulting each other in a friendly way.

    It’s funny–I didn’t find his voice shrill at all. It didn’t even have flat aspect except when he got hyper and overstimulated and blurted out his entire story at a rapid speed. People who are used to Hollywoodized child characters might be irritated I suppose but it seems an awfully odd comment.

    I’m thrilled that movies like this will help neurotypical people better understand autism and sensory processing disorder. I know a few people who ought to see it–wonder if they’d say, “Hey, I’ve seen that specific behavior! Maybe it IS part of the conditions he has.”

    And I also love that Oskar was lovable, and gifted in a beautiful way. We need positive portrayals of quirky kids!!!

  89. ian says:

    His lacking of social cues is what made his special needs behavior unbearable for me. He was a dick to everyone and was always yelling. one moment he’d be compassionate and then he be yelling at a tired ass old man.

  90. Jeffrey says:

    Social cues my ass. If you had the excitement, the enthusiasm of visualizing new worlds, new inventions and the like, what the hell would you care about the meaningless drivvle we are surrounded with. Ferrari’s don’t care who’s behind them either.

  91. Deb says:

    Can’t wait to see it! I have read all comments – bigoted and personal…
    I work with adults on the spectrum, aspergers and ASD.
    My chaps go out wherever they want, but always with support staff that know them well and can spot triggers in different situations…
    I feel it is most difficult for people who appear neurotypical. As someone posted earlier, a physically evident disability gains understanding, a man in his forties (with no obvious visual differences) shouting something inappropriate or dashing off to put something in line can receive very different responses!
    This has caused problems with the police force and general public..
    The reason is normally small (to us!), boy SO important to them that the day can’t continue without knowing its right !!!
    It could even be hours or days later that the meltdown comes…
    I totally applaud all you parents out there supporting your children, I also totally respect those who allow their children to progress into supported services as they get older – those of us who support them care very much, try our best to fulfill their potential, and benefit from having the input and background from families!

  92. Kim Oakley says:

    Great article. Indeed there continues to be a pervasive collective ignorance regarding those on the autistic spectrum, especially when it comes to understanding their unique and individual characteristics. What some people don’t know, or choose to ignore is that many autistic people, even those that talk, struggle to communicate and understand the world around them. Non autistic people don’t hear the grating sounds that drive some autistic people up a wall. Nor do they understand sensory overload or tactile defensiveness, all of which can seem like the autistic person is having behavioral issues, when in fact, the behaviors are a defense mechanism to survive in a world that is not often autism friendly. Autistic people need compassion and protection, not drive by speculations from those who have never lived with or worked closely with persons with ASD.

  93. Frank says:

    Hate of autistic people is something that needs to be exposed. Karolyn Kovtun, aka Karolyn E. Kovtun, a criminal defense attorney in San Diego County, recently called the autistic victim represented by Prosecutors, ” a retard.” Specifically, in attempting to justify her client’s abuse of the autistic person, Kovtun stated, “My client is a saint for having to put up with that retard.” Yes, discrimination of autistic people still occurs, but when you hear it coming from an attorney who is supposed to have professional conduct and instead insults the crime victim because they are disabled, we know we have a long, long way to go in the fight against discrimination of autistic people.

  94. shari horan says:

    i found this movie unable to walk away from…well written well acted….moving. I DID relate to this child…have had several students with Asbergers and watched my best friend struggle to understand and love her odd awkward loud amazingly intelligent son into adulthood. well done….AND the movie moved me to tears…

  95. Tyler says:

    Haven’t seen this movie yet. It was something to do with Sept 11 so that put it at the bottom of my list. Sounds like it was actually an interesting movie. I think its important to point out the complaint of the bigoted reviewer didn’t have something to do with the boy in the movie throwing a tantrum and devastating a grocery store restaurant or movie theater which is something that is admittedly very annoying whoever does it. It was because the kid talked like a “nerd”, “retard”, “queer” or wait a minute I guess the word now is Autistic. People like that should clearly be shunned. Maybe this reviewer rather is the one who should be shunned. I don’t disagree with the whole making allowances for people with Autism, but I still feel like thats feeding into the people with Autism are broken thing if you don’t acknowledge. Sometimes you need to make allowances for people who don’t have Autism, everyone needs allowances sometimes. Also for people who think and act and live in an Autistic way there are things non Autistic people do that are totally wierd annoying and grating. We are just the minority so our way of being is the way that is wierd/wrong/tragic. Someday I think acting Autistic will be a bit like being left handed, no longer a big deal. Also Autism Key I think you should know that in 1920 0 out of a million children were diagnosed with Autism. Because guess what the man made word and concept hadn’t been thought up yet. Back in 1970 it had been thought up but there weren’t movies about it or much talk about it in the medical world so almost no teachers or parents had heard of it. Also just FYI there are Autistic adults. It is believed by many the gender imbalance may have something to do with Autistic traits being less noticeable in girls. Having problems with hand eye coordination for instance becomes highly noticeable in boys who are bad at sports and then mercilessly humiliated ostracized and beaten up(I say that somewhat tongue in cheek but that does basically happen). When girls are bad at sports nobody cares.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
  • * 1.7 million Americans have some form of autism
  • * 4 out of 5 autistic children are boys

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